A weird, random...yet never-the-less inspirational...blog post appeared on N'Gai Croals game column recently. It's from Cliffy B.'s brother, but it speaks worlds to the hardcore gamer's plight as of recently. Wii is ruining our industry. We helped build it. And we shouldn't go down without a fight to mini-games and waggle-fests. Here is the orginal post (shamelessly stolen from GAF):
LINKMy brother Cliff and I have been into games long before he ever created Gears of War. He and I played through the original Zelda together and I remember having tournaments with him where we'd play the original Nintendo Ice Hockey game. I liked to stack my team with the fat guys because they had a booming shot that could score from anywhere and were really good at checking. Cliff went the skinny guy route and tried to skate circles around me.
But the times, they are a-changing. If Nintendo has its way, young males will no longer be the dominant segment of the console audience--and this transition appears to be happening faster than I expected. The other day I was in Target looking to pick up some games when I saw an older woman--very likely a grandmother--waiting for the clerk's attention. She wanted him to get her a couple of games from inside the locked glass cabinet. When he asked her which ones, she stated Cooking Mama and Wii Play.
I could barely stifle a groan. Don't get me wrong; I think it's cute that someone who likely had no idea what a video game was would suddenly plunk down her Social Security money so she can cook virtual meals, play a rousing game of table tennis and shark her little grandchildren out of their milk money in billiards. But honestly, I had refused to believe that grandmothers were buying these things as so many news reports have claimed until I saw it with my own eyes. My story may be anecdotal, but the plural of anecdote is data, and there are more than enough news stories on this topic to suggest that this phenomenon is real.
What's more, Nintendo has the sales figures to back up its hype. The NPD sales figures since November have been troubling to me as a hardcore gamer who loves new IPs and in-depth experiences. The Nintendo Wii has built up a ton of momentum in 2007, and despite the fact that it features an internal architecture that maxes out graphically around where the original Xbox did, it has quickly become the darling of the non-gaming press. There have been umpteen stories about the scrappy little Wii wooing non-gamers and bringing in hordes of new converts to worship at the altar of Mario.
I'm not saying that the videogame industry shouldn't strive to bring in as many new people as possible. It most definitely should, because new gamers mean a nice, healthy business. My problem is what this new crowd appears to be drawn to. Games like Wii Sports, Wii Play and Cooking Mama have become some of the biggest sellers, and that is what has me worried. If these are the type of games that become blockbusters, then you can count on other gaming companies who cater to the more hardcore gamer--aka me and the milions of others who've been driving this business--to promptly change direction. If we've learned anything about videogame companies, it's that they all are quick to follow each other if one is successful with something. I mean, Sony already imitated the Wii a bit with their Sixaxis controller; Microsoft followed Sony with their own EyeToy-like camera, albeit far less successfully; and Sony is now trying to replicate some kind of online service a la Xbox Live. If Nintendo winds up outselling the 360 and the PS3 by a wide margin, how soon will it be before we gamers are using the Sixaxis to chop up onions with in Metal Gear Mama? How long before we're frantically swinging waggle remotes for tennis, bowling and golf in Halo Sports?
Will games like Halo and Gears of War ever go away? Hell no. But publishers aren't stupid. They're going to go where the majority of the money is and if people want to play the WarioWare mini-games more than the meaty experiences that hardcore gamers love, you're inevitably going to see a corresponding shift in development. Publishers are in the business of making money, so if they can spend six months or a year developing a mini-game package for five-year-old technology and make more profits than they would by spending 2-3 years crafting a long and detailed experience, you can bet your Wiimote that that's exactly what they'll do.
If casual games become the industry's primary money-making vehicle, these mini-game collections and more casual games could wind up completely redefining the market. I don't think we're far off from the day when Hannah Montana Wii and Wii Sports 2 dominate the NPD charts. And as soon as that day comes, why would publishers want to continue to the time and effort to develop an in-depth, cinematic experience when they could slap together a bunch of mini-games with waggle and make just as much money, if not more? Remember, gaming is a love for you and me, but it's ultimately a business for these publishers and developers.
So while the business of the Wii has great for Nintendo--surprise, surprise--and a handful of risk-takers like Ubisoft, it's thus far been ugly when it comes to the experiences beloved by core gamers like myself. The Wii has been chock full of mini-games, PlayStation 2 knockoffs and PSP ports. Yes, there has been The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but not much else in terms of lengthy, in-depth experiences. As for new intellectual properties, they've been pretty much few and far between, unless you consider Wii Sports and Wii Play new IPs; to me, they're more tech demos than anything else. At least the PS3 has Resistance and MotorStorm, with Lair right around the corner. The 360 has Gears of War, Viva Pinata and Crackdown. But for the Wii, most third parties would rather take the easy way out and continue to port older games with the waggle tacked on than devote the time and resources to creating great new experiences. The fact that the PS2 is still going incredibly strong isn't going to help the situation either, because it and the PSP will provide the Wii with an endless supply of ports for the Wii instead of forcing publishers and developers to think of new and in-depth experiences.
I'll repeat this again: I am not saying that the more hardcore games are going to die out. Smart developers and publishers will realize that they can make a mint off the hardcore, especially if more developers move towards the quick, jump in-jump out type of experience that many Wii and DS games offer. But they will be in the minority. Valve, Epic and others won't turn to making mini-game compilations, but I can definitely see companies like EA and Ubisoft realizing that they don't need huge development teams and hundreds of people working on a game to make a ton of cash in the land of mini-game moneymakers. It's like suddenly discovering that business plan behind McDonald's is applicable to video games.
Some will likely argue that these more casual games are a gateway drug for new users. They'll claim that we should be happy because it will bring a whole new group of people into gaming. I find it hard to believe that something like Wii Play could lead to someone like the little old lady I saw in the store playing Metroid Prime 3. I just don't see it happening. These same people didn't jump into hardcore games before the Wii, but they're suddenly going to do it now because they had some fun playing virtual bowling? I seriously doubt that. She's not going to go from creating a meal in Cooking Mama to saving Zelda. She's never going to defend Sera, guide Reggie Bush into the end zone, or venture into Liberty City. And should the product portfolios of major publishers become a zero-sum game, her tastes will represent a direct threat to my longtime hobby.
I sincerely believe that bringing new people to video games is a good thing. I like seeing the business continue to grow and be even more successful, because I'm old enough to remember the videogame industry crash between the Atari 5200 and the Nintendo Entertainment System. But ultimately, going more mainstream can have unintended consequences--ones that could negatively impact the breadth and depth of the kinds of games that I love, as do millions of others. I think Mike Myers' Wayne Campbell said it best in "Wayne's World" when he was talking about that tool Benjamin Kane, played so memorably by Rob Lowe. "It's like he wants us to be liked by everyone. I mean Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everybody liked. They left that to the Bee Gees." That statement could very well apply to the Wii and its software lineup.
Me? I'll take "Kashmir" over "Staying Alive" any day of the week.
Two lines in particular resonate with me and make me furious--
It's like suddenly discovering that business plan behind McDonald's is applicable to video games.
"It's like he wants us to be liked by everyone. I mean Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everybody liked. They left that to the Bee Gees."
The games we as tactful hardcore gamers like are the masterpieces, the art, the classics...the 5 star restaurants persay. Our landscape is a beautiful one. But here comes the mass-media and mass-market roaring down our path telling us that we now need to address the needs of grandma-ma. F*ck that. Fine, you can make some games for grandma, but if that's going to lead to the McDonaldism of an industry that's already F'd up...screw it.
It's now time for the creation of the "HARDCORE GAMER DEFENSE FORCE"! We need a logo...someone whip out their awesome photoshop/animated gif skills.
Nintendo is Satan.
So the should have called the Wii the VAGiiNA.
Calm down, buy games you have always liked. I ain't jumping on Nintendo train ever, even for free.
The Wii will end gaming as we know it!!!!11!
For the love of god.... seriously though.....
Suppose the Wii dominates the industry, and the Wii2 after it, and the Wii3 to follow.
What then? RE, MGS, Halo, NG, DMC, Sim City, Starcraft, TES, and other big ticket games and big ticket games to fill their shoes just.... Do you think they'll just disappear? Just vanish into the air?
No. Wtf is that kind of thinking? Are people just retarded or something? You think no thought provoking stories and strategic gameplay will ever exist again? Seriously! You've got to be ***king kidding me!
Do you honestly think no game devs will ever try and do something interesting with something new? Will they stop making mature themed games? Games with lots of technology?
God dammit people! This is a freaking case of terrible common sense! Just because your current avenue of fun is good, does change immediately mean worse? Do you really think no game you'll like will never come out in the future? It's like saying no amazing and fantastic movie will come out ever again because we have so many crappy movies catering to the lowest common denominator.
Honestly though, how can it get any worse than it is now? Does no one realise how many crappy games there are out there? Crappy games outnumber great games like 10000 to 1. And great does not automatically equal complicated or simple fun, and there will surely be room for both.
There will still be Mario Party XYZ, but there will also still be Mario Galaxy and the next big RPG and the next big FPS and the next big racing game that developers will have the interest to make.
If or when the gaming world does change and you can genuinely say 'I like nothing gaming has to offer anymore' than you can yell back at me. But until that time comes, you can kiss my chuddies.
P.S. You realise there are two handhelds out. The DS and PSP both with big sales, one obviously more though? You could argue that the DS is 'oh so simple' but you'd be foolish not to comprehend that their is room both both simple and complicated or games of larger scale and more content, and that's just on the DS.
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I agree with some of the points brought up in the article, but this should really be in general gaming.
Hey, don't get me wrong...it's the only system I own at the moment (because I'm just a poor grad student). But I want it to stay where it belongs...in the land of Nintendo fantasy retroness that the hardcore know and love...not this new hip alpha-mom non-game bullshit. Or this Nintendog/Animal Crossing little-girl garbage. To that I say GTFO! HARDCORE GAMER DEFENSE FORCE unite!
Yeah, I've already argued about this subject with some people, and opinions on the subjects seem to be very divided. I, like Cliffy's brother, fear for the PS4 if Wii repeats the success of PS2, and comes out on top of this generation with a multi-million gap.
I plan to own a Wii, when I get the money, but I'm mostly buying it for the party games. And, of course, Zelda.
It's spreading to the US and Europe as well as of late. Check the numbers. They don't lie.
The only thing that will prevent the spread further is getting these next-gen machines down to 300 bucks or less. Sony and Microsoft need to step up to the plate. Microsoft can save us (ironically), but is being a stingy bastard at the moment. If they can clean up their act and drop the damn price already, we may hopefully kill this Wii-mania fadness (read: "tickle-me-elmo #2"). If not, we may be doomed .
This never ends.
If the Wii is successful its because they brought the public what they wanted, simple as that. We can complain, bicker, or make some makeshift crusade against this new casual market or we can continue to support the games we enjoy. I do very much expect that Sony and MS are going to take a page out of the NIN handbook once the dust has settled but by leaving the hardcore market rest they are potentially giving up on millions of sales. MS and Sony are not going to drop efforts on the hardcore market nor are publishers, if anything they may put more effort into Wii releases but that is far from dropping all other markets. Hell even if the shit does hit the fan there will always be the pc.
If one wants to do something for the hardcore market then perhaps purchase more games (less used games, less renting etc) or heaven forbid let the console loyalty go and buy more consoles.
This article is written by a kid who could use a little bit of Wii in his life. Im about as hardcore as they get and I enjoy the system (hell its best/second best selling game is a hardcore series, people cant tell me that non-gamers are picking up Zelda left and right).
PS2 wasn't really for hardcore gamers either, that's what sells.
That's how you get the market, look at Sony pushing EyeToy, Singstar as much as they can, because that's what grows the market.
This is a great thing, Wii is expanding the gaming market and once the dust is settled we'll have a bit of everything (like we did with the line-up of PS2 games) and developers will have more money to make what they want.
Remember the first year of the PS2? Remember the first year of the DS? The two most successful platforms out there? Although not as successful, remember the first year of the Xbox? Don't assume that just because the developers are slow to actually put some effort into it that it will forever be "minigames and waggle-fests."
That said, this does not belong in the PS3 section.
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